Friday, July 10, 2009

Juan De Fuca Trail in Pics...

The weekend is here and I can't believe I haven't had time to post my Juan de Fuca blog has been a crazy busy week with the start of ELMs summer Fitness Adventures. Now that things are (relatively) under control I have had time to upload all of my pics from last weekend for you from JDF. I also shot some video so stay tuned for a little movie of our day on the trail.

The Juan de Fuca trail runs from China Beach (north of Sooke) to Botanical Beach, Port Renfrew, along the west coast of Vancouver Island. The trail is 47kms of classic west coast terrain including rocky and sandy beach sections, open cedar forest, ancient old growth timber, suspension bridges, ladders, boardwalks and countless river crossing that require descending and ascending up the other side. Although there are no long climbs, the total elevation lost/gained is over 2600m when all is said and done. That is a lot of up and down!

Most people hike this trail over 3 days. We fastpacked it in just over 9hours with a mix of running and trekking. The pace was super comfortable / easy and we took our time, soaking in the scenery, taking photos and just enjoying the experience. I will definitely do this as a day trip again and think that I could take an hour or more off with a little determination (and a little less fun:).

The plan was to meet my Ladysmith buddies Michelle and Shawn ("Where's my Sherpa' is their MOMAR team and they didn't bring one this time either) at China Beach for 7:30am. Well, they weren't there and I waited until 8:15 before discovering that I was actually in the wrong parking lot. Moron. By the time I found the correct parking lot at the trail head they had already left their vehicle and I was on my own.

Hmmmm. The first rule of hiking alone: Never change your plans without telling someone.

The ticket/parks lady was in the lot and she told me that a couple fitting their description had taken off down the trail a few minutes back. I told her that I was changing my plan. I told her to watch for my face on the news just in case. I showed her which car was mine and told her I would leave a note in the window with my new plan. She looked at me with wide eyes and said: "You could probably catch them if you hurry."

And so I did hurry. I got my kit together (3.5litres of water and plenty of bars, gels, snacks, bear spray, knife, longsleeve, first aid, camera, extra socks) and took off down the trail in a whirlwind.

What was I doing running to Port Renfrew... by myself... in the bush? This is the stupidist thing you have ever done Sarah. You just don't do that sort of thing. What if...what if...

But MAYBE they are really up ahead. MAYBE I can catch them and then I won't be alone. Just MAYBE...

And so I ran fast. The problem with trying to catch Shawn and Michelle is that we all usually run a pretty similar pace. Maybe they will be on the beach taking in the scenery...maybe they are waiting for me.

Or MAYBE this will be a really cool experience- running 47kms to Port Renfew by myself. Toughen up princess. Other people do solo ultras...well Gary Robbins ran this by himself, after running the West Coast Trail, in the dark for crying out loud! BUT...that is just plain wacko... You just don't DO that sort of thing.

YADDAYADDAYADDA...and so the mental turmoil continued as I danced through magnificant coastal rainforest...over a suspension bridge...past huge old growth cedars...along Mystic beach...past km after km marker...whhooohooing and calling out ahead for Shawn & Michelle mostly to scare away the morning critters but also with a small glimmer of hope that they might be up there...

'Sarah????" I swear I heard my name!! 'Shawn????" Yipppeeeeeee I am found! After 45mins and around 5kms I let out a huge sigh of relief, the pace slowed and we started a great journey together. And so the team was united and the group trip began as planned! This is where my photos start...enjoy!
Shawn and Michelle as suprised to see me as I was to see them!
One of the many beautiful sea viewpoints...
Helpful Mr Park Ranger giving us some details on Bear Beach...
How cool is that?

Shawn checks out the bunks in the emergency shelter and considers a nap half way through the trail.

Michelle navigates through of the sweet gumboot mud sections. I got the first soaker up to my shin and nearly lost my shoe!

Look waaaaaay up!


Enjoying the view!

Heading down towards Sombrio Beach.

Holy Crap that is freaky even in a photo! This suspension bridge was crazy high! There is a good video clip of us running across-stay tuned for that!

Through the ferns on a cool shadey section. The sea mist hung around for most of the day and kept us at the perfect temperature. we swim this next bit?

Along the beach again...there were about 3 or 4 beach sections and I found these harder to travel then the trail for sure. The little rocks hurt my feet in my squishy Salomon Wings!

On the beach in Sombrio looking for hippys...

Down down down...up up up repeat

More climbing and descending right until the very end...
Getting close to Botanical beach- I could tell by the cool rock formations...
Waiting for a ride at the Port Renfew general store. My pisspoor start meant that our logistics were screwed as both of our cars were now in China Beach and we were in Renfew and it was gettin' late. I have a new appreciation for hitchhikers! Not one car stopped for us in over an hour! But luckily we found 'Evan' the unofficial taxi shuttle in Renfrew via the store. He picked us up and had us back to China Beach in lightening speed. Look him up next time you need a ride in PR!
I felt great, albeit tired, dirty and in need of a cold drink, at the end of our long day. My first 'ultra' I suppose. I love to race but it is days like this that sit closest to my heart. This is why I train. This is why I listen to and care for my body. This is what brings me joy and fills my heart up to the brim. Exploration and unstoppable natural beauty that fills me up and exceeds my vocabulary with ease.
FYI: I was sore the next day- soles of my feet and gluteus medius! After a good ocean soak at Dallas road and a few days off, however, I was good to go!
Add this trail to your list if you haven't already done so!
Happy Trails,


Jeff Hunt said...

Hey Sarah,
There is actually a group of us in Victoria that run the JdF on an annual basis.
This year we have a group of 20-30 of us and we are running it on August 22nd.
I've even made a small website this year for the event, and it seems to be growing each year.
You may be interested in reading more about it and the times from previous years.

Past JdF runs that have been blogged can be found in my archive:

Happy running.

Danielle said...

beautiful photos sarah! thanks for reminding me that i need to get out there again soon. probably not doing what you did tho! ha! more like camping at sombrio :)

Ross Collicutt said...

I'll be running it with some friends this coming Saturday, the 21st! We'll be aiming for about 10 hours. I'll post a link to some info after we get back!